six degrees of separation

There is this unofficial theory that we are each connected to any person on Earth by chain of acquaintances with no more than five intermediaries (Karinthy 1929). Microsoft tested this in 2008 with a study of 30 billion electronic messages and found that the chain of acquaintances was 6.6.

This becomes really obvious when you jump online. LinkedIn illustrates it by displaying you, your business acquaintances and the third circle of potential acquaintances. Facebook is another example which encourages you to extend your circle of influence by ‘friending’ friends of friends.

New Zealand is said to have as few as two degrees of separation. Now Wellington may be the capital of New Zealand but it’s a village and it’s where I live. Today I bumped into an old colleague who I worked with eight years ago, and recently, I re-established contact with someone from my banking days – that’s over 11 years ago! It proves yet again that one should always leave a job on good terms with everyone ‘cos you never know when you are going to be working with that person again.


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